Recently, a string of cities and states have passed new ordinances that would require paid sick days for employees at certain employers. Just last week, Philadelphia’s city council passed a second version of a paid sick leave bill after the mayor vetoed the earlier one. Earlier this year, Seattle approved paid sick days legislation, while Connecticut became the first state with a state-wide requirement.
Now, the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch has published an expose of how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a corporate front group that farms out legislation to almost a third of state legislators nationwide — is drafting legislation on behalf of its wealthy conglomerate funders to repeal these ordinances.
PR Watch obtained documents from ALEC’s 2011 Annual Meeting showing that one of the group’s committees — the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force — focused its entire meeting on the issue of paid sick leave. Task force members, who are legislators, were given copies of a bill that enables state legislatures to override municipal paid sick days laws. The same bill was used in Wisconsin to override Milwaukee’s paid sick days requirement.
PR Watch notes that ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation subcommittee is co-chaired by a company that owns many of the nation’s fast food companies, major opponents of paid sick leave:
Meeting attendees were given complete copies of Wisconsin’s 2011 Senate Bill 23 (now Wisconsin Act 16), as a model for state override. They were also handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by ALEC member, the National Restaurant Association. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association lobbied for SB 23 to repeal the sick leave ordinance, as did the the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), the local branch of the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an ALEC member). Not surprisingly, ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee is co-chaired by YUM! Brands, Inc., which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Fast food companies have fought paid sick leave across the country.
It is not surprising that corporate-backed groups like ALEC are gearing up to fight paid sick leave ordinances, given how quickly they are spreading across the nation. The next major city to possible get mandated paid sick days is, Denver, where residents will go to the polls on Nov. 1 to decide the fate of their city’s ordinance. The U.S. is currently the world’s only industrialized nation that does not require paid sick leave for workers.